Passage Graves and Stone Circles

Copyright by Searles O'Dubhain

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"Passage Graves and Stone Circles" is the title of this workshop. The Magical nature of "In Between Times and Places" will be discussed and examples will be given for their use in Magical "workings". The Druidic concept of "imbalance" in Magical workings will be introduced and discussed. The nature and use of the (stone megalithic sites will also be presented and discussed. We attempt to undertake a journey to the lands that are between the worlds. This is the same place where anything can happen that Rod Serling referred to as the "Twilight Zone". The ancient Celts sought out this Magical place to aid their Magical Power and to seek the Otherworld. Before we can undertake this journey of the Spirit as well as the Mind, a brief review and synopsis of our previous discussions on the Celtic Otherworld and Magick are in order.In Between Times and PlacesAs we noted previously, the Celts believed that Reality actually consisted of multiple worlds. As a minimum, they believed there was a World of the Stars or Gods, a Middle World (the Earth) and an Underworld. All these worlds were connected in some way, with events and Magicks from one affecting events occuring in a different world. The Celts believed that these Worlds were closer at certain times. These are the "In Between Times" that we are going to speak about tonight. It should also be no surprise that the Celts and Druids practiced their most important Magicks during such times of transition as the sunrise, sunset,the moonrise, moonset and the transitions of the seasons (Beltaine and Samhain), as well as the extremes of the Sun (Mid-Winter and Mid-Summer), or the great "Fire Festivals". Later during our discussions of stone circles and passage graves we shall see one way that this desire to do Magick at the optimal times was possibly implemented.

The Laws of Draiocht

Celtic tales of Magick are filled with events that are linked to "in between states". This could be a mysterious fog, a time of dusk or next to the edge of water. All of these conditions have one state in common, they represent imbalance. Any student of the physical sciences can tell you, that all forces can be resolved into the sum total of the individual forces. One of the factors that must be overcome when moving anything is inertia. During times of change, when imbalance occurs naturally, is the time chosen by Druids for their Magicks. This is an example of the Law of Magical Association, the Law of Similarity and the Law of Contagion as stated by Isaac Bonewits in his book "Real Magick". Here is a listing of those three laws of Magick:

Law of Association: If two things have anything in common that thing can be used to control both, and they have a mutual influence on each other, depending on the size of the thing shared. The more they have in common, the more they influence each other

Law of Similarity: This is the basis of "Sympathetic" magic and basically says that effects resembles causes. "Lookalikes are alike".

Law of Contagion: It states that once things come into contact, they continue to interact after separation.

Power is Contagious

These three Laws of Magick basically say that if you want to do Magick pick a time when Magick occurs that is similar to the kind of Magick that you want to accomplish. There is a very similar belief held by modern Wiccans. Wiccans normally do creative or "positive" magick when the Moon is in its waxing phases. Banishing or "dark" Magick is done during the waning phases of the Moon. Druidic Magick took advantage of the times when the Sun or Moon "touched" the Earth (Sun/Moon rise/set). At such a time, some of the Power inherit to these heavenly deities could be "borrowed". This is the Law of Contagion at work. At Sunrise and Sunset is when the mists "Magickally" appear, making fog or mists a time of Magickal workings. The area of transition between states of matter such as the edge of a river or lake was also thought to be a Magickal location. This could have been due to the belief that all knowledge flowed forth from the Well of Segais or Conla's Well, but I believe it is more closely associated with the belief: that where different worlds met was also a place where entry to the Otherworld was the easiest. This also explains why they favored divination by the edge of water. Fire scrying is another example of this "Magick" in transition states. Fire is the ultimate transitory state of matter and leads us to the next topic of discussion, "Need Fires" and "Days of Imbalance".

Need Fires

As you will recall, another time of greatest imbalance was when the change of the seasons and the extremes of the Sun. This is, of course, Beltaine, Samhain, Mid-Winter's and Mid-Summer's Solstices. Great fires were kindled during these festivals for two reasons: To encourage and enhance the energies of the Sun and to create conditions favorable to Tramsmutation of Power.These "need fires" were used to scry, to purify and to sacrifice as well. Animals and other offerings were caste into the flames. As we have seen in a previousWorkshop, cattle were driven between the fires and youths engaged in jumping through the flames. (It has been conjectured that this practice of flame jumping had its origins in earlier practices of human sacrifice. I personally have not seen a single valid reference to Druidic human sacrifices.) The thought was also held that "like attracts like", so that the Power of theflames would also attract the Magical Power of the Sun.Being periods of imbalance, the Druids also took advantage of the flows of power to perform divinations.These great fires also served to signal the Power of the Druids to all people, as well as to unify their control over the minds of the Celtic nations.

Portals and Dolmen into the Otherworld

Although the Celts did not build the megalithic structures found within their lands, they were certainly aware of them. Without exception these monuments were attributed to the God/dessess, heroes and/or to the Tuatha de Danann. The many dolmen were thought to be passage ways or portals to the Otherworld. Many myths and tales surround trips made to and from the realm of the Sidhe by passing through a dolmen archway when the Moon was full. Modern archeology has determined that these dolmen are actually neolithic burial sites.

Brugh na Boinne

Brugh na Bo'inne (Newgrange) is one of the oldest structures in the Western world and it is found in Ireland upon the banks of the Boyne river. This is the Bru'gh na Bo'inne, the burial place of Irish kings and the legendary palce of the Dagdha and Angus mac n'Og. The area is also known, in English, as New Grange. This structure was erected by the original inhabitants of the land around 3500 BC, predating Stonehenge and being contemporary with the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Egypt. The structure was covered with white stones in ancient times and would "shine' in the Sun when seen from great distances. This is very similar to the way the Great Pyramid was also described when seen in the sunlight with it's reflective coating.Many ancient Irish legends and tales are associated with this structure and the passage of time. Most of these tales are about time standing still or seeming to pass without notice. Their stories center around Angus mac Og (the Young God), his birth in a day, his attaining the ownership of the Bruig for "only a day and a night" (lasting forever in endless cycles), and his arrangement of his foster father Midir's marriage to Etain (who is the subject of many stories of shapeshifting and transformation). This theme of timeless days and transformation is very important when one considers that one possible use of this structure was the taking of shamanic journeys (Angus himself was visited by an aisling or "dream woman" who played for him upon a timpan. Eventually they are both transformed into white birds of enchantment). Martin Brennan, an Irish-American, was the first person to note the relationship between the carvings at New Grange and the rays of the Sun. Using the discoveries of Brennan and our previous information about Celtic Shamanism, I am going to suggest that the interior chambers of this structure were used for shamanic ceremonies and journeys. Let me describe the geometry of Brugh na Bo'inne that a Draoi' priest might have encountered when approaching the structure for religious/Magical ceremonies. The first thing that would be noticed is a brillant white bowl or hemisphere shining amidst a sea of green. This mound is surrounded by 97 kerbstones and the entire structure is then encircled by a ring of standing stones. At the entrance is a stone that one walks around to enter the inner chambers. This stone is covered with spirals that have been carved into the stone. The stone is divided by a line that is aligned with the Mid-Winter Sunrise, the right hand spirals being counter clockwise (tuathal or widdershins) and the left hand spirals going clockwise (deosil). This is exactly the same type of path through the sky that one would observe for the sun during the year. (In fact, if you take a lens and focus the Sun's light on a board and leave it in place for a year, a track will burned upon the board in the shape of an interconnected double spiral. This experiment was done in the early 1970's by American artist Charles Ross.) The entrace to the interior chambers, beyond the entrance stone, is 70 meters in length. One must pass beneath three large stones that are thought to be symbollic of the Celtic Cosmology, the Sky World, the Middle World and the Underworld. Once past this Otherworldly entrance, one encounters a large chamber with three smaller side chambers that are oriented to the directions (Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest). The inner walls are covered with spirals and symbols, among them is an eight-rayed sun symbol (depicted within a circle). This symbol, as well as the rest are selectively illuminated by the Sun's entrance through a small hole in the roof box that is oriented directly to the Mid-Winter sunrise. A finger of light would shine within the chamber to illuminate the carvings, shining in golden flecks upon the chamber walls. Within the main chamber were great stone bowls that were possibly filed with water and arranged to further enhance the solar display within by acting as mirrors. The seemingly hap-hazard arrangement of carvings upon the walls are organized and transformed by the rays of the Sun as they enter the chamber and reflect upon the marvels within..

A Night with Angus mac n'Og

Now that the stage is set, imagine yourself to be a seer of the fourth millenia BC. You have fasted for days and have spent the long dark night of Mid-Winter meditating within the inner chambers of Angus mac n'Og. You have performed your rituals. You have attained a trance-like state and you await the rising of the Sun, the new God of Light and his return to the world. What far journeys or estatic visions will be triggered within your Sacred Space by the new Sun's first rays? A sudden thin ray of white light pierces the blackness of the inner chamber with an illuminating shower of images as the inner darkness explodes! Your mind reflects the brilliance of the new born Sun as your inner consciousness expands into infinity! Your brothers and sisters would follow the dark shadow of the standing stone to the carn's entrance to find you and the inner chamber reborn within the rebirth of the Mid-Winter Sunrise! What stories you could tell! What prophecies you could make! I sometimes think that Brugh na Bo'inne is really the Hyperborean " ...temple of the Sun..." mentioned by the ancient Greek writers, rather than Stonehenge itself.

The Land of the Hyperboreans

Perhaps the British Isles are the Islands of the Hyperboreans after all? Where else is found such a system of large scale, megalithic structures all centered around the Sun and the Otherworld? One has only to step within any of these raths to be transported to another time or another age. Brugh na Bo'inne is only one among many such locations. Three great mounds exist in this area of the Boyne river, New Grange is the most elaborate but the nearby mounds of Dowth and Knowth are also fascinating. Dowth is oriented to receive the rays of the setting Sun on Mid-Winter while Knowth has two passages and is oriented to receive the rays of the Equinoxes. These chambered passages are not limited to Ireland, but are found throughout the British Isles and even in Brittany. Two noteable sites are located at Maes Howe in the Orkney Islands and at Gavrinis in Brittany. The interaction of carvings and site orientation is also wide spread and not limited to just the rays of the Sun. Many sites also used the beams of the Moon to illuminate passage ways and special formations. Although these sites could be called observatories by those of a purely scientific viewpoint, that would be a modern day limitation and a total misunderstanding of the aims and worldviews of their creators. To fully appreciate the beauty, majesty and wonder of these Magical sites, requires us to use our entire mind and inner vision. Perhaps we should now consider the other great location that has equal claim to being the Hyperborean Temple of the Sun? That location is called Stonehenge.

Faery Rings

Who has nor heard of the mysterious lights that are seen within faery rings when the Sidhe dance within the Moon ways? Such lights have also been observed within Magickal Circles constructed by Wiccans and modern day Ceremonial Magicians. The crop circle phenomena has also been associated with light displays and formations. All these phenomena havebeen reported and seen by reliable witnesses (although, as with all such events, there have been cases of fraud as well). The fact is that such circlular formations have all been associated with light displays and other unexplained phenomena. It is no coincidence that all of the previously mentioned Magical phenomena are also associated with the oldest such locations, the stone circles. Many hundreds of these sites are found in Britain, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The two greatest of these are Stonehenge and Avebury. I will discuss Stonehenge tonight. I may discuss Avebury in the future if it is of sufficient interest to the other members of the workshop.

The Giants' Dance

Stonehenge! Has there ever been a place to fire the imagination such as Stonehenge? What secrets does it hide as it sits amid the many other marvels to be found upon the Salisbury Plains? This question and thousands more like it have passed through the minds of mortals for at least the last 3000 years. Why was it built? Who built it? How was it used? Can it be used again? I'm sure you many have a few questions of your own!<G> Before we get to the questions, let's go through a few of the details we know about the site and some of the more recent discoveries that have been made regarding its possible uses.

Stonehenge I

Stonehenge was built in three phases, starting with the construction of Stonehenge I around the year 1900 BC. This is about a thousand years after the Pyramids and the tombs of the Brugh na Bo'inne and a few hundred years before the fall of ancient Troy and the Oddessy. The first phase of construction was a great circular ditch with banks being piled upon either side. The people building it were late Stone Age people, Not much is known about them except that they were hunters. An opening was left on the northeast side with four holes being left at the entrance that may have contained wooden poles. Two other holes inside the enclosure may have held upright stones. A third hole was dug that still contains the "heel stone", over which the sunrise is observed. A variety of other features are associated with this first phase of construction. I shall refer you to "Stonehenge Decoded" by Gerald S. Hawkins and John B. White for a more indepth discussion of these or other Stonehenge details. The entire structure was about 320 feet in diameter and about 6 feet high by 20 feet wide with the heel stone and possibly two other standing stones being visible. The entire bank would have been glaring white since most of the surrounding surface region is composted mostly of chalk. The heel stone rises about 16 feet into the air and is about 8 feet thick by 7 feet wide. Around the inside of the bank was a series of 56 holes called "Aubrey" holes. These holes contain the created remains of men and women from that period. Even in its first phase, I'm sure you'll agree, it must have been an imposing structure.

Stonehenge II

Work upon the second phase of Stonehenge was begun about 1750 BC by another race of people known as the "Beaker People". These people built two concentric inner stone rings consisting of 82 bluestones on about a 70 foot diameter around the center of the mound. The entrance was widened in the ditch bank by about 25 feet and a double row of 10 bluestones was placed in the entrance to the stone circles. This work was done during about a hundred year period and was never finished due to some unknown interruption. With their departure, the Stone age closes in Britain and awaits the coming of the Bronze Age.

Stonehenge III

The third and final phase in the construction of Stonehenge was undertaken by the "Wessex People" in about the year 1650 BC. These people were much more highly skilled than the "Beaker People" and carried on commerce with the peoples of the Mediterranean area. So many artifacts are found from these areas that some scientists have developed the theory that Stonehenge was finished under the auspices of a "Master Builder" from the Mediterranean. Since this is the only large megalithic structure attributed to the Wessex People, they may well be correct. The previous double ring of bluestones were removed and set aside for later use. They were replaced by a single row of huge sarsen stones coming from Marlborough Downs. A horseshoe shaped structure consisting of "trilithons" was placed inside of the sarsens and aligned upon the northeast opening and the center of the new stone ring. These "trilithons" are not found in other stone circles and are further evidence of the sophistication of the builders. The cross pieces are held in place using a woodworking technique called "mortise and tenon" construction. All of these stone pieces were hand-worked. The uprights are very close together (about a foot or less). The outer circle is 97 feet 4 inches in diameter. The outer stones are about 14 feet high by 7 feet wide by 3 1/2 feet thick. The inner horseshoe is formed by stones ranging from about 20 to 25 feet high. A temporary structure which was oval shaped was constructed around the sarsen horseshoe that used the previously removed bluestones. This oval was removed and the stones were later used to form a horseshoe of bluestones inside of the sarsen horseshoe. A number of holes was also dug outside the sarsen circles called the "Y" and "Z" holes. These are in a pair of roughly circular rings around the entire structure. One stone remains to be described and that is called the "altar stone" though no hole has been found for it and no use has been clearly defined It is of a different material from the sarsens or bluestones. It came from a quarry 30 miles away and is of fine grained green sandstone with mica flakes. If clean, it would glitter in the sunlight. Stonehenge III was completed about 1600 BC and now we are left with the Mysteries of its construction and use.

The construction techniques would take an entire Workshop to cover and will not be discussed tonight. I refer you to "Stonehenge Decoded" for details. An estimate was made of the effort required using the conjectured techniques and and estimate of 1,500,000 man days was determined to be the level of effort required to build Stonehenge. These techniques were demonstrated using modern day men to determine how many were actually required for each task. I believe the estimate to be realistic and accurate. The question remains,"Why undertake such a truly monumental effort ?" Although the "How's" of Stonehenge are fascinating, I am much more mystified by the "Why's"!

I can classify the "Uses" into five categories:

  1.  It was used as a Calender to predict the seasons, 
       the phases of the Moon,and the times of the Sun Festivals.
  2.  It was used as a site for performing Ceremonies 
       (everything from sacrifices to Season fesitivals).
  3.  It was used as a Computer to determineSolar and Lunar eclipses. 
       (The use as acelestial observatory also fits in here).
  4.  It was used as a place to work Magick,take shamanic journeys 
       (similar to aNative American Medicine Wheel), and was used 
       to initiate new shaman and/or priests into the order. 
  5.  It was used for some other purpose that is subject to conjecture
       and await she revelations of our own illuminations".

I will attempt to provide details about the site that have been determined by computer analysis
and let each of you decide for yourselves what you think, since tonight we are very limited timewise.  
We may return to these topics for additional details in the future.

An Ancient Computer

How well did Stonehenge predict the Mid Summer/Winter sunrises and/or moonrises? When the stone alignments were analyzed by Hawkins in 1961, using a digital computer borrowed from Havard University. The analsis showed a TOTAL correlation of all major Sun alignments and an almost total correlation with alignments of the Moon as well. The accuracy of these correlations was within 1.5 degrees. The calculations were based upon the positions of the Sun and Moon circa 1500 BC. When the various phases of Stonehenge were considered, it was found that Stonehenge I had 11 key positions that pointed to ten of the twelve extremes of the Sun and the Moon and Stonehenge III pointed 8 times to 8 of the same key positions! Needless to say, the position and day of the key Solar/Lunar days could be easily determined using Stonehenge as a calendar. The computer was also used to determine a method where the 56 "Aubrey holes" were used to predict eclipses. (BTW 56 is also the number of years that the moon takes to complete its entire cycle through the skies). These facts have been used to support the arguement that the priests using Stonehenge could have reinforced their apparant "power" over the elements by not only predicting the "dreaded" eclipses but also to "miraculously" cause them to disappear. I personally couldn't say if this speculation is valid. It seems rather cynical to me. Another very interesting fact about the location of Stonehenge is that it is almost EXACTLY at the right lattitude (51 degrees 17 minutes) to allow the Sun and Moon azimuths to be separated by 90 degrees. It would seem that the site was NOT chosen at random.

Shamanic Flights of Imagination

Before starting, I'd like to quote the ancient Sicilian historian, Diodorus about Britain in 50 BC: "The Moon as viewed from this island appears to be but a little distance from the Earth and to have on it prominences like those of the Earth,which are visible to the eye. The account is also given that the god visits the island every 19 years, the period in wish the stars to the same place in the heavens is accomplished. There is also on this island both a magnificient sacred precienct of Apollo and a notable temple.... and the supervisors are called Boreadae, and succession to these positions is always kept in their families." (BTW the Moon rises farthest to the North every 18 to 19 years as seen from the center of Stonehenge).

I would like to speculate upon some of the possible Magical aspects of Stonehenge:

The site is situated in the midst of a lot of so called "crop circle" activity. Could the energy of these verified phenomena also be harnessed by Stonehenge? Could an outbreak of crop circle like marks have sparked the neolithic people to have constructed their own more permanent circles? Is there an Earth power that is yet to be discovered by modern science? Is this power related to "orgone" as postulated by Wilhelm Reich from his work with "bions"? Reich said that this energy could be seen spiralling into the air through tubes made from organic matter. His "accumulators" were like batteries for orgone and were made of alternating layers of organic and inorganic substances (like the roofs of the great chambers at Brugh na Bo'inne). Guy Underwood was also a proponent of what he caled "earth force" (also described as being spiral in nature). Underwood used divining rods to locate pockets of such energy within Stonehenge. Is there a "Dragon" or "Serpent" power waiting to be harnessed within the Earth? Many of the ancient tombs have such a mark above their entrys. It would seem that the Druids believed it was so. Could ancient kings have married the land here as suggested in Marion Zimmer Bradley's "The Mists of Avalon"? I know the area is surrounded by the burial mounds of many ancient kings. Is the "Dragon Power" awaiting a new infusion of energy from a group of dedicated Magical practitioners. Does the Dragon sleep? The many solar/lunar occurences at Stonehenge suggest it may have been associated with shamanistic practices and initiations in a manner similar to the areas of the Brugh na Bo'inne. Such a practice is suggested in several neo-Druidic books. Is Stonehenge a portal to the Otherworld?

Ley Lines

One cannot discuss "earth force", "orgone" or the Earth Power nodes such as Stonehenge without discussing ley lines. These lines are geometrically located by standing at a Power node and sighting towards other power nodes. Using such techniques, "ley hunters" have determined that most of southwestern England is criss crossed by such lines. Are ley lines "power conduits" between "power nodes"? To answer this question, I read the books: "Earth Memory" and "Shamanism and the Mystery Lines" by Paul Devereaux, the editor of the "Ley Hunter" magazine and the Director of the "Dragon Project". Devereaux has embraced, investigated, evaluated and rejected more theories about the "ley lines" than anyone else (as far as I know). He acknowledges that "death roads" do exist near many of these sites but rejects them as being solely responsible for all ley lines. (NOTE: death roads are straight roads leading to such ancient centers for the express purpose of burials and funerary processions. They are well documented and universal to mankind). His own personal theory is that the ley lines are the result of shamanic OOBE conducted at the so called "power nodes". The ley lines are the result of marking in this reality the patways that the shamans take in their altered reality from one sacred site to another. He suggests that these "traces" of the Earth's Spiritual Pathways are the means by which we can become re-attuned to the Earth's Power and ancient knowledge. Well there we have it, a discussion of Druid Power and Power centers! I know from my own experience that Magical Power is stored within my own Solitary home Circle. How much greater can the True Power be at a site as special as Stonehenge or Brugh na Bo'inne?

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